Thursday, March 11th, 2010
“Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over.” Often attributed to Mark Twain, whoever said that seemed to have quite a bit of foresight, something the mainstream cleantech community is only recently warming up to.
The fights over water use facing utility scale solar thermal projects in the desert Southwest may have a lot to do with opening the eyes of the clean-tech community, but the sector’s challenges and opportunities are much broader than that, as scores of Californians, Middle Easterners, and Australians will attest. So why, with the problems so immediate and demand remaining strong in the $58 billion annual market for water technologies, has water investment as a percentage of venture investment declined since 2005?
Friday, March 5th, 2010
As the climate crisis accelerates, farmers are placed in the ever more precarious position of growing food for an increasing population in the face of increasingly bizarre weather patterns. Weather patterns are shifting due to the increasing amount of energy trapped in our atmosphere by greenhouse gases.
And yet, farming offers the fastest way to slowthe climate crisis. This is because farmers manage photosynthesis, the biological process within green plants that pulls carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and stores it in a stable, useful form: organic carbon. Organic carbon is the chemical basis of leaves, shoots, roots, fungi and all the other living things that make up healthy soils.
Good farmers can accelerate this process and pull huge amounts of carbon dioxide from the air into soil organic matter. Increased soil organic carbon can help us manage dry and wet years better by storing water. And the practices that build soil organic carbon require more diverse cropping systems, making farmers (and us) less reliant in any one crop. (more…)
Monday, March 1st, 2010
When New York State’s environmental agency came out with a draft environmental review of drilling in the Marcellus Shale in September, it set off a flurry of action for environmentalists, industry advocates and the general public.
People were given 30 days — later extended to 90 — to digest the highly technical 800-plus-page document and submit comments. They could also voice their opinions at four public hearings.
At stake was the future of gas drilling in New York’s portion of the Marcellus Shale, which could produce vast amounts of natural gas, but which some residents fear also could contaminate drinking water sources and the air.
Since the comment period ended on Dec. 31, New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation has been assembling and evaluating the public’s response, which included a stinging analysis of the plan by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. DEC officials aren’t saying when the final version of the review will be unveiled, but two department representatives, Yancey Roy and Maureen Wren, did agree to walk us through the process. (more…)
Monday, March 1st, 2010
Former New York Rangers goalie and Sierra Club member Michael T. Richter has a great op-ed piece in the Minneapolis Star Tribune discussing the future of Winter Olympics, global warming, and Canada’s oil sands industry.
This publicity follows action taken in February when champion winter athletes joined with international environmental groups calling on Canada to save the Winter Olympics. Amongst the athletes were snowboarder Jeremy Jones and Skier Alison Gannett.
“Canada has some of the best snowboarding in the world, but the oil sands industry is going to blow it. This is the dirtiest oil on earth. If want to save our snow, we have to stop it,” Jones said.
Increasing concern over the impact of global warming on the future of snow sports is putting a spotlight on Canada’s oil sands industry, the country’s fastest growing source of global warming pollution and the dirtiest form of oil in the world. (more…)
Saturday, February 20th, 2010
Two of the largest companies involved in natural gas drilling have acknowledged pumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of diesel-based fluids into the ground in the process of hydraulic fracturing, raising further concerns that existing state and federal regulations don’t adequately protect drinking water from drilling.
Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., who released the information in a statement Thursday, announced that the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which he chairs, is launching an investigation into potential environmental impacts from hydraulic fracturing.
The process, which forces highly pressurized water, sand and chemicals into rock to release the gas and oil locked inside, gives drillers unprecedented access to deeply buried gas deposits and vastly increases the country’s known energy reserves. But as ProPublica has detailed in more than 60 articles, the process comes with risks. The fluids used in hydraulic fracturing are laced with chemicals — some of which are known carcinogens. And because the process is exempt from most federal oversight, it is overseen by state agencies that are spread thin and have widely varying regulations. (more…)
Friday, February 19th, 2010
AguAgro Fund LP has acquired water technology incubator Kinrot Technology Ventures from Canada’s Stern Partners Inc. in a share-swap deal, reports Globes.
Stern Partners, run by president Ronald Stern, will reportedly get a stake in AquAgro, an Israeli venture capital fund focused on innovative water and agriculture technologies, although terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor regulations governing Israel’s Technological Incubators Program require that AquAgro inject at least $3 million into Kinrot over three years.
Sunday, February 7th, 2010
“All indications are that we should be alarmed about the future of sea level rise and should be doing something about it now.”
So say Orrin Pilkey and Rob Young, eminent coastal scientists, who wrote The Rising Sea to provide substance for that alarm and to offer suggestions as to how we can plan ahead to reduce the severity of the impact of the rising sea.
The authors begin by reminding us that it’s not a distant prospect. They describe what is happening to Alaskan shoreline villages such as Kivalina and Shishmaref, the Pacific atoll nations such as Kiribati, the Maldives, the Marshall Islands, Tokelau and Tuvalu, and the city of Venice, places already grappling with rising sea level.
Rising tide gauge data and an increase in coastal erosion along many of the planet’s shorelines provide clear evidence of the rising sea and of the warming of the planet.
Friday, January 29th, 2010
A ranking of 163 nations based on environmental public health and the vitality of their ecosystems places Iceland, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Sweden, and Norway in the top five, with the U.S. trailing in 61st place and China and India ranking 121st and 123rd respectively.
The Environmental Performance Index, compiled by researchers at Yale and Columbia universities, ranks countries based on 10 main categories such as environmental health, air quality, water management, biodiversity and habitat, forestry, and climate change. Iceland ranked at the top because of its excellent environmental public health and reliance on renewable sources of energy such as geothermal and hydropower.
Thursday, January 14th, 2010
, a Yokneam, Israel-based wireless water meter manufacturer, and Luxembourg-based meter maker Actaris Metering Systems
were jointly awarded a deal to provide 150,000 water meters to the city of Mumbai, India according to Globes
Citing the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute, Globes reports that the deal is part of a $128 million project to install 1.2 million water meters in Mumbai, though contracts for the remainder of the project have not been distributed. Arad and Actaris, however, are expected to win the follow-on tenders, because of logistical difficulties in coordinating different meter systems and technologies in a single municipal network.
Wednesday, January 13th, 2010
A campaign was launched last week in which celebrities, business leaders, environmentalists, politicians and school kids around the world communicate their hopes for life on earth by 2020. These hopes are being conveyed as part of the 2020 Vision campaign launched by Planet Positive .
The campaign provides people with the chance to express their view of the future via online movies, illustrations or written word. The website allows anyone anywhere in the world to view visions and upload their own, stimulating debate around climate change.
The website also provides people with some reassurance and clarity on the innovation, infrastructure and products that will help them shift into low carbon, more sustainable lifestyles. There are ten online sections, which provide information on key areas of human life such as Home, Energy, Food, Water, Travel, Transport, Communication and Entertainment.